Skip to main content

What is Salvation, Part 1

Belief
Q: What is salvation and can you lose it?

There's the saying "once saved always saved". Using the scripture that no one is able to snatch them out of the Fathers hand. (John 10:29) but it says in verse 27 My sheep hear my voice, I know them and they follow me.  So the no snatching is referring to those who hear and follow, in other words who are obedient to His Word.  So, the ones that do not heed the call of the Lord and follow can be snatched?

What about sin hardening the heart? (Hebrew 3:13)

Shipwrecked faith? (1Tim 1:19)

I have heard the saying - "It's not how you start the race but how you finish it."

In Hebrew 3:14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,

If you aren't a true follower of Christ then how can you have the strength on your own to even run the race.  It is because of Christ and who He transforms you to be that you would even want to run the race at all.  So maybe some were never saved at all?

A: This will be the first post in a series of five to address the many facets of this excellent question. Keep in mind, the nature of the question is dealing with the “what” of salvation and not the “how.”

As we focus on “Salvation” we must understand at the beginning that it is a salvation from something and for something. We also must understand that salvation has a past, present and future element. In this first post we will examine the past element of salvation which pertains mostly to what we are saved from.

For someone who has genuinely received salvation, it is (at least partially) right to say, “I have been saved.” This statement is what grammarians refer to as past perfect which refers to a completed action that has taken place in the past.

The work of salvation (accomplished through the life, death, resurrection and exaltation of Jesus Christ) was accomplished in history, about 2000 years ago. What this salvation has rescued the individual believer from is two-fold: 1) slavery to sin and death & the penalty for sin as a result of Adam, and 2) the penalty for our own personal sins.

Sin and fall
First, let’s look at the mess that Adam got us all into. In Genesis 1-2 we read about the creation of Man (male and female; Genesis 1:27) in the image of God. Part of the purpose and work of Man was to rule over and subdue the rest of God’s creation (Genesis 1:28). When Adam rebelled against God through his disobedience, Adam ruptured the relationship between God and Man and handed over authority to rule this world to the Devil. We see this reality when Jesus is being tempted by Satan in the wilderness:

8 Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; 9 and he said to Him, "All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me." 10 Then Jesus said to him, "Go, Satan! For it is written, 'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'" (Matthew 4:8-10, NASB, underline added for emphasis)

Notice that Jesus doesn’t correct the Devil and tell him, “You don’t have the right or the authority to hand over any kingdoms!” Jesus rightly understands that Satan does have that authority, but this is not how Jesus came to restore the kingdom! Many other passages describe the reality of this world being in Satan’s power and authority.

Not only was authority handed over, but death also entered the world through sin and spread to everyone (Romans 5:12) and every human being was made a slave of sin (Romans 7:14). As slaves of sin, we are incapable of pleasing God (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:9-20; Hebrews 11:6) and served the lusts of our flesh and the will of the Devil (Romans 6:19-20; 1 John 3:8-10, Ephesians 2:3, 1 Peter 4:1-2, 1 John 2:16).

It's a trap!
While this claim of the Scriptures may seem harsh and is likely to be dismissed as foolishness by the one who rejects Jesus as Lord (1 Corinthians 1:18), the reality is that the “will of the Devil” is not always what people think – it’s not always drinking blood and fornicating and murder or whatever else. The will of the Devil is to bring lasting death and destruction – even if that means bringing lots of pleasure to the individual along the way (Hebrews 11:25). The sinner in his rebellion will often live the life that they want, but the end of the path they are travelling is not a place they really want to go! (see Psalm 73 and Proverbs 14:12)

The truth is, whether we like it or not, the whole world has been sold into slavery to death, sin and the Devil as a result of the Fall of Adam (Romans 8:22). Even worse than being under the wrath of the Devil, the world is also under the wrath of God (John 3:36, Romans 1:18)!

While this is terrible news, the good news of Jesus is that we can be saved from the wrath of God through Christ (Romans 5:8-9) and transferred from the domain and dominion of the Devil into the kingdom and reign of God (Colossians 1:13; 1 Peter 2:9-10). So what is salvation? It is being saved from the wrath of God and the reign of Satan through the substitutionary death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ! Jesus bore the wrath of God on the cross so that all who trust in Him (Jesus) could be set free (Romans 10:9-13; Colossians 1:19-23; 2:13-15).

While we were enslaved to do the will of our flesh and the Devil, we committed multitudes of sins against the Almighty (Job 15:16; Romans 2:5; 3:23) and the penalty for sin is death and Hell (Matthew 25:31-34, 41-46; Romans 6:23a; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Revelation 21:8).

law and judgment
While sin entered the world because of Adam, death spread to all because all sinned (Romans 3:23, 5:12). Again, this is terrible news! Every man, woman and child who has ever lived is under the condemnation and judgment of a Just and Holy God! Everyone is guilty before Him because everyone has fallen short of His righteous requirements.

Those outside of the Christian faith often object to the idea that anyone would go to Hell simply because they didn’t believe in Jesus, but this is a misunderstanding. People don’t go to Hell because they haven’t heard of Jesus – they go to Hell because they have rebelled against the King of the Universe! Their penalty is due to their rebellion. Jesus is the Savior from the penalty, not the reason for the penalty. Everyone deserves to go to Hell because that is where rebels go … but God, in His great love and mercy, has made a way (singular) to be reconciled to Him and to receive pardon for your rebellion.

This is good news!

One of the biggest lies of the Devil is that there are degrees of innocence. While most people will readily admit that they've made mistakes ("no one's perfect!"), these same people will profess their own goodness (Proverbs 16:2). Unfortunately, "innocent" is not a comparative term. It's an absolute -- you're either innocent or you're not.

I know many people who have gotten speeding tickets. Often, people lament the fact that they received a ticket even though they "were just keeping up with traffic!" The fact that everyone around you was breaking the law does not change the fact that so were you. You are not "innocent" because you're just as guilty as everyone else ... you're guilty just like everyone else!

Someone that I love very much remarked to me once, that if this is true, then everyone is headed to Hell. Sadly, yes. (see Matthew 7:13-14; Romans 3:23). We're all in the same boat (so to speak), but the boat is sinking and it is sure death for everyone on board.

If it were not for Christ, no one would be saved (John 14:6; Galatians 2:21).

We cannot trust in our own goodness, because it's never enough. God does not put our good deeds on a scale and weigh them against the bad. He requires moral perfection. Consider what Jesus said:



7 "Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come immediately and sit down to eat'? 8 "But will he not say to him, 'Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink '? 9 "He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? 10 "So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.'  (Luke 17:7-10, NASB, underline added for emphasis)

We don't get "credit" for being good and kind and loving ... we're supposed to be those things! A criminal doesn't get acquitted of murder and theft because he has paid his taxes on time. You're supposed to obey the law of the land, and you are penalized when you break the law (even if you've kept other parts of the law). Innocence is like hanging from a chain, if one link is broken you will fall because breaking the law means you're guilty (see James 2:10).

Salvation is a free gift of God
If we receive the gift of salvation, we have been saved from the wrath of God which is currently upon all who do not believe (John 3:36; Romans 1:18) and the Lord has removed our past sins from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12) and He promises to remember them no more (Jeremiah 31:34).

If we understand that the King of the Universe has freely offered pardon for our foolish rebellion against Him, then we can understand why David so wisely wrote: How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! 2 How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit! (Psalm 32:1-2, NASB)

Amen!

Those who accept Christ as Lord and Savior through repentance and faith have been saved from the reign of Satan, the penalty of Adam’s sin, and the penalty of their own sin.

In the next post, we’ll look at what we are saved from in the present.

(Continue reading Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5)

Comments

Popular Posts

Smoking Hookah

Q: This week a young Christian talked with me about the practice of smoking Hookah. They attend a church [which] is reaching out to the many Indian and Muslims in the surrounding areas. Their church also have several ministries that support missions in India and Arab countries. As they spoke with me they said that many of their Christian friends are smoking the Hookah. They said that they have been told that certain types of Hookah smoking involve no tobacco but are simply flavored water, other types of Hookah smoking do include tobacco but in a ‘more pure’ form than that of cigarettes that have additives. The Christians that they know of who partake in smoking Hookah do not feel that there is anything sinful in this practice and believe that it is just a part of certain cultures as a way to relax and socialize. Apparently during certain celebrations some of these culture groups get together as a family and include smoking the Hookah together as part of the festivities. These Chris

Christ Died For Our Sins

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3) The truth of the gospel includes this important phrase: Christ died for our sins . You've probably heard it before. Many times. Sometimes familiarity leads to a diminished sense of importance. The more you hear about something the more ordinary it may seem. Common. Ho-hum. Boring. But this truth is anything but common. Another difficulty arises with this truth. Beyond being common. It may happen in your ears without you even realizing it. When the truth is declared that Christ died for our sins, you may think you hear the truth. But what you really hear is a diminished version. A partial truth. Instead of hearing that Christ died for our sins you may hear a slightly different version of this truth. You might hear this: Jesus died for your sins. Do you see the difference? You should. These statements are similar. Both m

Prayer vs. Petition

Q: What's the difference between prayer and petition? Phil 4:6 for example. A: An excellent word study question! When attempting to study words from the text it is necessary to analyze the word being studied in the original language (in this case Greek) as attempting to look up the words in English will often produce erroneous results. For example, in English the word petition has within its range of meanings things that are certainly not within the scope of meanings for the Greek word (i.e. “a sheet that is signed to demonstrate agreement with some principle or desire for some social action to be taken” is part of the range of “petition” but not of the Greek deesis from which “petition” is translated). The word most commonly translated as “prayer” in our English Bibles is proseuche , which appears 36 times in the New Testament (NT) in one form or another (for the purposes of this study, we are only examining the usage of these words as nouns – the verbal forms will not be

The "Jesus Loves You" Problem

Q: I've encountered a lot of teaching and Christians who believe that saying, "Jesus loves you!" is a valid form of evangelism. Do you disagree with this? If so, why? It seems like a loving way to reach out and to encourage those who are not believers. A: What a great question! There are certainly a lot of materials and teachings that encourage Christians to use the phrase, "Jesus loves you" as an outreach and evangelistic tool. Much of this teaching that I've encountered emphasizes following the lead of the Holy Spirit. It claims that the Holy Spirit will often lead Christians to say this to non-believers to encourage them and try and lead them to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Fourth Year Ministries does not teach or endorse this as a valid evangelism strategy. That's not because we don't want it to be valid! Truth be told, we would love for this to be a good practice for Christians. It would certainly open some more doors for us. I

10 Things An Evangelist Is Not

You've probably heard the term Evangelist before. Most people have. The term most likely brings something to mind. Sometimes positive. Often negative. Does your idea match what other people think of when they hear the term evangelist? More importantly, do any of these ideas match what the Bible tells us an evangelist is ? The truth is that most of the popular ideas about what an evangelist is and does are based on the culture, not the Bible. This is a problem. The cultural idea of an evangelist is so popular that it is beginning to be used by companies. If you go to popular job sites and put the term evangelist into the search bar you will find many non-church jobs looking for evangelists. Many of these positions include the duties of spreading knowledge about a particular company, product, service, or idea. The Bible tells us that Jesus gave some Evangelists for His church. And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as